Borrelia Mayonii has just been identified as another bacteria that can cause Lyme Disease, and apparently so far it’s only been encountered in the United States’ Upper Midwest.
The discovery was revealed to the public on Monday, February 8, in a news release issued by Mayo Clinic experts, and representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Scientists had only been aware of just one pathogen capable of provoking Lyme disease: Borrelia burgdorferi, which commonly infects blacklegged ticks found on white-tailed deer.
The hard-bodied ticks, scientifically known as Ixodes scapularis, also choose other hosts such as mice, birds and lizards, and can even transmit Lyme disease to human beings, by latching onto them, and sucking their blood.
When analyzing a set of blood samples collected between 2012 and 2014 from patients that had been living in North Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota, in order to determine if these individuals had indeed suffered from Lyme disease, microbiologists at the Mayo Clinic from Rochester, Minnesota came to a startling conclusion.
Of the 9,000 people included in the survey, 6 had actually been infected with another previously unidentified Lyme disease bacteria.
As revealed by Dr. Bobbi Pritt, who was among the researchers that made this noteworthy discovery, the newly detected pathogen has been eventually named Borrelia mayonii.
This bacteria species has been identified just among patients from the northern portion of the United States, with no such microorganisms being discovered so far in Mid-Atlantic states or in the Northeast, where Borrelia burgdorferi is especially ubiquitous.
Given that Lyme disease blood tests have been conducted on a large scale for quite a while now, but no evidence of this microorganism has been found up until recently, researchers believe it hasn’t been long since Borrelia mayonii evolved as a new species, probably after another bacterium suffered mutations.
Apparently, some of the symptoms developed after contracting this bacteria are similar to those triggered by Borrelia burgdorferi, consisting mostly of headaches, fever, lethargy, chills, skin rash (erythema migrans), swollen lymph nodes, muscle pain and arthritis.
The difference is that Borrelia mayonii infections also manifest themselves through vomiting, nausea and more extensive rashes, which aren’t shaped like a bull’s eye, tending to be more more spotty and uneven instead.
In addition, people who contract this pathogen usually have more significant presence of bacteria in the blood (bacteremia), and also exhibit other peculiar symptoms, such as impaired vision and disrupted sleeping patterns.
As researchers explain, the discovery of a new microorganism that can transmit Lyme disease is a significant step forward, especially when taking into account that on a yearly basis approximately 300,000 Americans develop this type of infection.
Lyme disease can normally be cured in a matter of weeks, using antimicrobials such as doxycycline, but left untreated the infection can result in inflammation of the spinal cord and brain, Bell’s palsy, heart palpitations, arrhythmia, debilitating migraines, numbness and tingling of the limbs, short-term memory loss, vertigo and shortness of breath.
While Borrelia mayonii can be combated with the same class of antibiotics commonly administered against Borrelia burgdorferi, researchers haven’t yet determined if the newly identified pathogen is equally harmful or even more dangerous than its older counterpart.
Given that just 6 individuals have been diagnosed so far with Lyme disease caused by Borrelia mayonii, Dr. Jeannine Petersen, a microbiologist affiliated with the CDC, believes that more such cases should be identified and studied before the virulence of this new bacteria can be more precisely assessed.
For now, more details regarding this discovery can be found in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, published online on Friday, February 5.
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